Hindustan Times (East UP)
The story of Covid, Kumbh and Bengal
When the former king of Nepal, Gyanendra Shah, and his wife, Komal, tested positive for Covid-19, it took little detective work to know how they had got infected. Mr Shah, whose autocratic and unpopular rule led to the end of the monarchy in Nepal, had chosen to visit the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar — and an image of him, barechested, without a mask, in the middle of hundreds of religious men, on the ghats, immediately went viral. Mr Shah, like the hundreds of thousands who visited the Kumbh, had perhaps thought faith alone would defeat the virus. It didn’t.
With West Bengal showing a consistent rise in cases — it was over 10,000 on Wednesday — it also takes little detective work to understand that one factor contributing to the surge is the nature of the election campaign — which, incidentally, is still underway. Political leaders risked their lives and the lives of all those who attended the rallies and continue to do so. They perhaps thought that political power would defeat the virus. It didn’t, and it won’t. It is alarming that even after India has acquired the grim record of having the highest number of cases in any country in the world ever since the pandemic broke out, the most basic principles of protecting oneself — and others — have to be reiterated. Don’t hold large gatherings, don’t meet people unless you have to, maintain social distancing norms, and stay home. India is struggling with adhering to every norm that can help patients battle the disease; even though the management of this disease is challenging, and lives are at stake. Lockdown or no lockdown, any group, which continues to hold large gatherings, is doing a disservice to the nation at this time. Political parties should wake up.